Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Adventures In Puppy School - Class 1

Jack, our 90 pound puppy, and I are attending obedience training together. I'm pretty sure I need this training more than he does, but the brochure says that he'll learn to obey basic commands like sit, stay, come, and heel. Many people are still waiting for me to obey basic commands, but they will just have to keep waiting for a different class.

Jack is a very strong chocolate lab who is approximately ten months old. His only fear that we've discovered to date is electronic doors. He absolutely refuses to go through them for some reason. We have been a little hesitant about me taking him to class because of this and his overall strength. My husband usually wears Jack out before taking him on a walk and even then Jack can be hard to handle, so I've been looking forward to this training adventure with a little trepidation. I played ball with him for about 25 minutes before the class to calm him down a bit, but that just resulted in him sleeping for the 40 minute ride to the training facility.

As I pull into the parking lot the trepidation turned into fear. I saw several other dog owners getting out of their cars with their pets. . . almost every one is what I tend to irreverently call a 'rat dog' -- those hairy little yappy dogs that weigh about four pounds soaking wet (no offense to lovers of small dogs). Jack uses toys bigger than that to play tug of war with. This wasn't looking good. After seeing a couple of medium sized dogs get out of their cars, one that looked to be a handful for its owner, I felt a little more comfortable.

I got the pinch collar out of my bag, thinking that might give me a better pretense of control, and I realized there is NO way it will go around his neck -- it was at least three links too short (it's left over from our last 90 pound dog). This is going to be one big boy! Fear and trepidation returned as I remembered how Jack wormed his way out of his collar when my husband took him to be neutered. Thinking about how big Queenie Park is, I said a quick prayer and headed out.

We made it to the doors and I saw that they weren't electric -- yeah! We made it safely through the first set and Jack froze. Something didn't look right to him and he instantly became a statue. Two of the little dogs pranced right past him and went through the second set of doors as the panic showed on his face. This dog was terrified of something. I brought bribes just for this purpose, and I let go of the leash and went through the door, sat on the floor and held his bone up...no dice. He didn't buy it. He plopped down on the floor with legs splayed like Bambi on ice and buried his head under a chair. He didn't move. Four dog owners, with their little dogs sitting pretty, all tried to help, humiliating him further.

Finally someone called the dog trainer. She asked for my pinch collar, pulled out three more links so it fit, put it on him and physically drugs him through the door. He was too humiliated to eat the bone for five minutes!

He did pretty well in class after that, but I think he wanted to show the class how smart he really was. While they were working on 'come' and 'sit', he wanted to show them that he had 'lay down' mastered. Have you ever tried to get a 90 pound dog who prefers to lay down to sit back up? It's not pretty.

We worked on going through doors a little after class (if I can trick him into getting through a single door, it works ok, but he won't go directly through it). I don't know what his problem is with working in class. When we practiced outside he did wonderfully.

If he doesn't do better next week, I'll bring our Welsh Corgi to the rest of the classes and just train Jack on my own at home.

Whew. I didn't know this was going to be an aerobic activity! Check back for more adventures next Tuesday.

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